Tucked in the Philadelphia-Washington, D.C., megalopolis are two of America's smallest states. But don't be fooled. Maryland and Delaware aren't places you want to pass by as you speed over the interstate. Nor should you make the mistake of assuming they are two parts of the same geographic location. Far from it.
Marylanders consider their state "America in miniature." In the space of 300 miles, a visitor can travel over mountains, past rolling farmlands, and across a mighty body of water to the flat coastal plains that end at the Atlantic Ocean. For every season, there's a pretty-as-a-postcard view: spring tulips in north Baltimore, summer skies over ocean and bay, autumn leaves along the Gunpowder and the Potomac, and snow-topped mountains filled with skiers.
Delaware has its own delights. "The First State" revels in its history: Dutch whalers created an outpost along the Delaware Bay; Caesar Rodney raced on horseback to ensure passage of the Declaration of Independence; the state was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution. And it makes the most of its natural beauty: White sands line its Atlantic Ocean shores; cypress trees wade in the tranquil waters of inland ponds; rolling hills traverse the Brandywine Valley.
As you travel through these two states, you'll have the opportunity to peer into the age of dinosaurs, see where Native Americans made their marks, trace the route of European settlers and runaway slaves, and marvel at the advances of the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age, and the Digital Age.
What's your pleasure? Food: You can't beat the seafood restaurants along the Chesapeake Bay or in the ocean resorts. Wine: Believe it or not, Maryland wineries have produced some pretty decent vintages. Architecture: Colonial gems in New Castle, Delaware, and Annapolis, Maryland, are the real deal, protected for more than 200 years; and mansions, castles really, dot the Brandywine. Music: Wilmington has both a symphony and an opera company, while Charm City's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its musical director Marin Alsop are wowing audiences at home and at Carnegie Hall.
Outdoor adventures: These states have got it all, from kayaking and white-water rafting to sailing, fishing, surfing, mountain biking, and camping. Whatever you like, if you can't find it in either Delaware or Maryland, you're not looking hard enough.
Only in Baltimore, Hon -- Walk down one of Baltimore's rowhouse-lined streets and you'll probably see a painted screen. Idyllic scenes were usually on the window, but some screen doors have been decorated, too. William Oktavec started the art form in 1913 to soften the hard lines of the city streets and provide a little more privacy to the homeowners. The idea caught on with homeowners and artists alike. Screens are part of the collections at the American Visionary Art Museum. (There's a screen painting kit for sale there, too.)